By Ruth Tene Natsa, Abuja
The World Health Organization has stated that by 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas, and issues related to water are intrinsically linked to climate change.
This was revealed at the COP27 Water Day which provided a forum to address this with a focus on sustainable water resource management.
COP27 President H.E. Sameh Shoukry said: “With water use increasing every year and 70% of the world’s freshwater used for agriculture, according to the World Bank, the stresses of climate change are felt more and more. Climate change is already limiting people’s access to water globally, as droughts, floods, and wildfires linked to warming temperatures impact the supply. Monitoring and managing river basin ecosystems are becoming increasingly vital and initiatives like AWARe will provide for transformational collaboration across the continent.”
The day started with the inauguration of the AWARe initiative, in partnership with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The initiative will foster political efforts, practical action, knowledge sharing, and field capacity development to place adaptive water management systems at the heart of the climate change adaptation agenda, establishing a pan-African hub for water.
Success stories from Africa highlighting how water systems have been successfully adapted in the face of severe climate change were presented. These included smart irrigation, flood protection, and rainfall harvesting. Attendees examined how best to go beyond these accomplishments and scale their resilience in the short term to face worsening climatic conditions. Among the points of discussion were public-private partnerships, sustainable financing, and increased community engagement.
Over the course of the day, sessions highlighted the way forward on adaptation and climate-resilient agriculture. These included: Freshwater-use Decoupling and Water Security exploring the potential for frameworks and technology to enable resilience building to drive water security, River Basin Scale Adaptation and its Co-benefits and the Risk of Maladaptation looked at mobilizing the global effort to improve water management, increasing collaborative efforts in water adaptation and the challenges of maladaptation, Floods and Droughts focused on the need to have people protected by early warning systems to save lives and livelihoods, and Water Mitigation looked at how best to preserve water resources in the face of climatic pressures and ensure access to safe drinking water.
The focus on water at COP27 brought together diverse voices from policymakers, scientists, researchers, civil society, and government, who shared ideas and success stories related to addressing issues of water scarcity.